Energy Transition New York

From Vision Towards Knowledge Creation

Creating a bright energy future in which we can consume energy without guild: without climate change and without reducing the air quality.  It seems like a distant future. However a glimpse of such a future became apparent after I interviewed 21 scientists at the three technical universities (3TU) in the Netherlands. I conducted these with the goal of providing an overview of Dutch electric vehicle and microgrids research, to ultimately, set-up Dutch – U.S. research collaboration. These  inspiring conversations taught me a lot about the scientifically based  vision on the future of the energy industry.

Miro Zeman told me about clean intermittent, distributed and  renewable energy resources (like solar, wind and hydro) and how they will play an important part in supplying our future carbon neutral energy needs. Paulien Herder gave me insights in the extra strain of these intermittent sources on, often already outdated energy grids . Most researchers pointed at the development of novel information technology (IT) as the solution. These could provide tools to smartly manage these fluctuating energy flows to  balance supply with demand, and remain within the boundaries of the grid. However, Gerard Smit told me that these IT solutions will not be enough to match supply and demand. In this respect Peter Notten’s research into the development of new battery technologies was inspiring. Most researchers supported the argument that energy storage will increasingly play a large role in the future energy system. Remco Verzijlbergen came with an especially interesting argument: the batteries of electric vehicles might play an important part within the grid when managed efficiently: storing energy when demand is low and giving it back to the grid when demand is high.

Talking to these scientists made me realize the immense task at hand: transforming grids, growing the share of renewable energy sources and creating novel ways of managing these energy flows requires novel and radically different knowledge. I was happy to see and speak to many scientists working on these problems but also convinced that in order to accelerate developments, cooperation is key. A visualization of the Dutch knowledge network within these three universities revealed over 1700 researchers working on these topics within a strong knowledge clusters (see visualization below). Within these clusters scientists are working on a variety of topics like batteries, hydrogen storage, efficient photovoltaic cells, and smart and sustainable power systems, to name a few. In table 1 you will find an overview of strong Dutch research clusters.

Collaboration is Key

The quality of these research institutions is high considering the size of the Netherlands, only 17 million people, less than the number of people living in the State of Nw York. Just 17 million people, limited resources (MIT’s budget dwarves that of the TU Delft: by a factor of around 22) and still 4 universities within the top 100 list of universities in the world (times higher education ranking). However, this small scale has its drawbacks. Cooperation is key in staying in the forefront of developments and connecting Dutch researchers with American researchers could prove fruitful for both parties on specific topics where the research complements each other. Furthermore international collaboration between strong knowledge institutions increases the chances of finding funding for research.

 

A presentation on the Dutch research network and the next steps we will undertake click on this link: http://www.slideshare.net/MelchiorLangeveld/k2k-dutchexpertise

 

Table 1: Dutch knowledge clusters, their researchers and topics

Strong Clusters

(# nodes)

First tier (top 1% of degrees)

Second tier (top 2% of degrees)

Topics

1 (205)

F. Mulder; J. Schoonman; E. Kelder

Marnix Wagemaker, Gordon Kearley

Battery and Hydrogen Storage

2 (178)

M. Zeman; R. van Swaaij

Arno Smets, Wim Metselaar

Low cost efficient PV systems

3 (136)

E. Lomonova; J. Paulides

H. Jansen

Energy conversion in automotive systems

4 (154)

P. van den Bosch; M. Steinbuch

T. Hofman

Control systems for automotive applications

5 (132)

W. van Sark; A. Meijerink

J. van Roosmalen

PV performance in built environment

6 (172)

W. Kling; M. Gibescu

 

Smart and sustainable power systems (grids)

7 (106)

P. Herder

B. de Schutter

Technology, policy and management of smart grids

8 (119)

P. Bauer

B. Ferreira

Micro grids and EV charging

9 (91)

P. Notten

D. Danilov

Battery management systems and hydrogen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visualization of the Dutch EV & Microgrid research network


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